Wallsend MP calls out “gang of Newcastle councillors” during fiery address to Parliament

Tensions between Newcastle councillors and a local MP have spilled over into state parliament on Wednesday. 

Labor Member for Wallsend Sonia Hornery has spoken in the chamber, referring to the seven councillors from within her own party as a gang, who are trying to deflect from their own agenda.

The two parties have been at odds for some time, but most recently spilled over when Ms Hornery called on Council to re-consider any further privatisation to the city’s pools last month. 

That led to Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes and her Labor councillors, raising allegations of interference, intimidation and bullying and recusing themselves from a debate on awarding contracts for the five inland pools at the May 23 meeting.

It meant that the council could not form a quorum and that the vote would be handed to CEO Jeremy Bath. 

At the time, Ms Hornery labelled the accusations as false and misleading and that she will not be pressured to advocate less for her community. 

At the latest meeting of council on Tuesday night, the issue was again on the agenda, this time for a confidential vote. However, a number of councillors, including Liberals Callum Pull, Katrina Wark and Jenny Barrie, along with Greens John Mackenzie and Charlotte McCabe moved to bring the decision back to councillors. 

Cr Pull told the chamber that he intended to speak on the motion, however Deputy Lord Mayor Declan Clausen, who was chairing the meeting in the absence of Newcastle Lord Mayor Nuatali Nelmes, received legal advice that no debate was allowed.

Cr Pull then attempted to move a motion of dissent, which was ultimately voted down by the Labor majority.

It’s understood that instead the Labor councillors moved a different motion, which labelled the conduct of an unnamed MP as inappropriate among other things. 

In response to the events during the Council meeting, on Thursday, Sonia Hornery moved a motion in Parliament, accusing the councillors of running a smear campaign and in a public statement said she would not be accused of bullying tactics.

“I will not stand by and be accused publicly, and baselessly of bullying tactics by cowardly councillors who hide behind confidential closed sessions and do not even do their jobs as elected by the Newcastle ratepayers.

“Last nights City of Newcastle Council meeting saw a repetition of the lies from half of the councillors in the chamber.

“The pools privatisation issue remains unresolved and some of the elected councillors need to own up to the fact that they are simply too gutless to make the hard but necessary decisions for the ratepayers they represent.

“Thankyou to the other councillors who tried to move a rescission motion and actually have a say on democratic decisions despite being blocked by the majority.

“I will continue to advocate for my community and the best outcomes for them, even if it is unpopular or I have to criticise those in my own party,” Ms Hornery said. 

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